Family loses home after family member sparks fire inside apartment in southwest Fresno

Local News

FRESNO, Calif. (KGPE) — A family lost their home after a family member sparked a fire inside their apartment in southeast Fresno Sunday night.

Lieutenant Tim Tietjen with the Fresno Police Department says they were looking for a suspect of a crime Saturday in the same neighborhood of the fire near Belmont and Fisher Avenues.

The suspect pistol-whipped two people after they refused his demands to pay him for being in the neighborhood.

That’s when the suspect holed himself up in his home and started a fire. The suspect was later identified as 24-year-old, Gerardo Varela, according to police.

The Fresno Fire Department responded to the fire and managed to keep it to one apartment.

The suspect’s mother, sister, and 3-year-old niece have nowhere to go.

“Our heart goes out to that family, uh, they’re frustrated and we understand why. Um, and, again, clothing’s damaged, everything. So we feel for them,” Tietjen said.

Lieutenant Tietjen describes the suspect’s family as good people just trying to make a living.

Aside from the Red Cross, Police Chaplaincy is also helping the family.

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